Quan Âm Pagoda
Listening to the Saigon wake up is the best time.
At 5.30am, cool enough to have the windows open.
Surrounding construction cranes are momentarily quiet leaving the airspace free to a dawn chorus of exotic sounding birds still camped in the odd vacant plot.
With an unexpected free day this week I found a brief haven from the noise and chaos in Quan Âm Pagoda. Remote from the main tourists haunts and markets, step from grey streets into an explosion of colour.
meat for the tiger
Vivid murals, where brightly painted tigers and dragons jump from the 3D relief.
Gold and deep reds hide in the darker corners where the God sit amongst smouldering incense.
These are well fed deity with offerings of money and food placed within their reach. Benefactors names flutter slightly on delicate pink paper, indicative of relative wealth.
Wandering down street and a less affluent temple Thiên Hậu Temple, sits discreetly behind iron gates.
Drab and dowdy after its extrovert neighbour, yet look up and there is a fresco of porcelain. Intricate statutes telling stories of the past. No pink ribbons of benefactors this must be the poor relation.
Thiên Hậu Temple
Read a little of the area to reveal how recent is the history of mayhem. In 1968 war photographer Eddie Adams took a pulitzer prize winning photo of the execution of a Vietcong prisoner on surrounding streets.
Then I booked a ticket with Vietnamair. Interesting system in this cash based society. I bought my ticket on line. Vietnam debit card not valid for internet purchases. There is system. Within 12 hours take the reference number to a bank and pay, in cash. It works.
Life here is same, same, but different. Somewhat.